Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Merry Christmas, the Burro

My family and I spent a week in Palm Springs last week, and one of the adventures we went on was to the Cabot Museum in Desert Hot Springs. There, our guide Moises, told us a story about Merry Christmas the burro.  I am always "all ears open" when I am listening to tales about Christmas!

It seems that Cabot had a burro he named Merry Christmas (reasons unknown) that he dearly loved.  When the burro smelled the breakfast pancakes, he would trot to the pueblo and right into the house.  He would walk right up to Cabot and eat the pancakes with him!  The burro was very smart and learned a few commands.  Once Cabot and Merry Christmas got caught in a dust storm. It looked bad for Cabot and Merry Christmas, but Cabot told Merry Christmas to "go home."  And he did!

The gift shop had a tiny stuffed burro that was named Merry Christmas, so I purchased one as a souvenir of our trip. I plan to write a short story about Merry Christmas the Burro, so be on the lookout for a new Christmas story.

Until next week, enjoy THIS story of another Christmas Burro!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Christmas Cleaning

I used to be in love with the Christmas cleaning schedule I discovered back in the 80s.  You know the one, where you started in August and deep cleaned your way to Christmas? No more. One, I don't have the time or energy to spend with that kind of cleaning during this time of the year, and two, my cleaning schedule just consists of doing what is needed just in time. When I see a need, it gets done. This is what works for me.

For your Pinning Pleasure!

That all being said, I do like to take some time to clean up for the Big Day.  I love this 12 Days of Christmas Cleaning because it gives me about a 30 minute task each day before Christmas.  I love that there is an element of deep cleaning, but nothing that takes a huge amount of time.  To make it all the easier, I have created a downloaded chart that can be hung on your laundry room door and with places to put checkmarks (I love checking things off a list!) Continue reading to hear details about each day.

Download for your own personal use only!

Overview:  I break down the cleaning into three parts:  General cleaning, a big project and a touch up project.  General cleaning is something you will want your regular supplies to do.  Think dusting, vacuuming and washing.  The big project is something you don't do often but do need to do occasionally. The touch up project is something that needs attention but doesn't take a lot of time.

Before you start your 12 Days plan, go through the house, room by room and use the three basket strategy to clean away clutter.  One basket is called Put Away, and this is just things that you want that belong in another space.  One basket is called Throw Away and thing that go in here are headed for the trash (or recycling.)  The third basket is called Donate and everything that goes here will be donated before you start. Once this part is done, you are ready to start your 12 Days of Christmas Cleaning plan!

Day 1.  Start with the master bedroom.  Your big project here is the curtains.  The curtains are dust trappers and will make your whole room feel cleaner right away.

Day 2.  Kids rooms are always hard because they get messed up right away.  The big project here is organizing toys. I suggest that you clear out all but three sets of toys. Keep the toys your child plays with daily.  That will make future cleaning easy, and it is just for 12 days!

Day 3.  The laundry room is so easy to skip. Don't! Just because it is behind closed doors doesn't mean that you shouldn't clean it.  The big project is to wipe down your appliances.  Clean the filters if you can.

Day 4 is the hallway.  The big project is to knock down any cobwebs you might have around the ceiling line and around objects hanging on the wall.

Day 5 are bathrooms.  I have 4 bathrooms to clean, so I always start with the powder room, then move to the bathrooms that are used the most.  The big project is cleaning the toilets.

Day 6 is the Kitchen.  You will doing some cooking and baking during this week most likely, so all we are going to do is wash down surfaces and clean countertops and floors.  The big project is cleaning appliances (the outside!)

Day 7 are back to the bedrooms.  The big project is to organize the closets, so that they are neat, but not the kind of organization where you empty them out and then restock them. Nope, you are going to clean up the fallen clothing, shoes, jewelry and arrange things neatly. Vacuum the floor and put in an air freshener.

Day 8 are the hallways again.  What's nice about this day is that it will probably will only take 15 minutes, so if you want to tackle the dining room, this is the time.  Dust, vacuum, cobweb removal!

Day 9  Bathrooms again!  This time the showers and bathtubs get the big clean!

Day 10.  We are back to the kitchen.  Clean your ovens!  That way cooking on Christmas will feel so nice, when you open the door to a clean oven!

Day 11.  Whole House cleaning.  It's the day before Christmas, and you will want the whole house to be fresh.  Vacuum and dust everything, mop floors, check the bathrooms and spot clean.  Tidy up the kitchen and check the dining room.  Spend no more than 90 minutes on this task. Engage the help of spouses and kids!

Day 12.  Merry Christmas!  All today is for is to have fun and make memories.  Your biggest clean up task is to recycle bows, paper and boxes!!

I hope this will be a helpful guide for cleaning at Christmas.  Keep it low stress, but feel like you are accomplishing something, too! I'll be following my plan myself, and posting it on Instagram~follow me at

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Remembering Your Passed Loved Ones at Christmas

Christmas is a big holiday in our family.  We all set aside schedules, and busy lives, to come together to celebrate.  Because we kept this holiday so special, we really missed those family members who had passed away before Christmas.  I am sharing with you some of my favorite ways to honor the memories of your passed loved ones at Christmas.

This adorable dish from Mudd Hutt on Etsy:

I love this saying printed on a block of wood (no credit found on Pinterest)

Or how about this awesone ornament from Amy's Bubbling Boutique?

I love these Memory Bears from FlowerCreek at Etsy.  I can imagine having the bear made from a shirt or a sweater of your loved one, and then having a special time to set these bears out under the tree, telling stories and remembering good times!

At our house we do something very simple.  We make an ornament using a photo of the person.  It is super simple: use quality card stock and cut out a frame larger than the photo.  Glue the photo onto the cardstock.  Punch a hole at the touch and run a ribbon through it to create a hanger.  Tie a knot at the end so the ribbon stays put.  Glue decorative trim around the photo.  On the back side, write the name and years born/died.  Hang on your tree and remember that loved one each year.

Honoring both grandmothers and my brother.

What do you do to honor your passed loved ones at Christmas?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Oreo Christmas Cookie Ideas

I have been in love with Oreos since I was a little girl.  These cookies were a staple at my house for many years.

I have always wondered where the name came from, and there are many thoughts about that.  My favorite is that it is a derivative from Oreodaphne, a part of the laurel family.  The original Oreo package had a laurel wreath on it, so the connection is pretty clear!

I have loved using Oreos to make my holiday treats.  The truffles made from oreos and cream cheese are my family's favorites. I love using the mint oreos to make these each Christmas. Do you have a favorite flavor for your truffles?

Here are ten of my favorite Oreo Christmas cookies.  Can you pick out just one favorite?  I couldn't!

Ten Oreo Christmas Cookies

Santa Oreos by Positively Splendid

Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies by Inside Bru Crew

Snowflake Oreo Cookies by A Pumpkin and A Princess

Oreo Rudolph Cookies by A Sparkle of Genius

Snowmen Oreo Cookie Pops by Spend With Pennies

Chocolate Covered Christmas Oreos by the Soccer Mom Blog

Oreo Snowball Cookies by Flour on my Face

Oreo Wreath Cookies by Premeditated Leftovers

Oreo Christmas Coal by Passion for Savings

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

DIY Ornaments to Start NOW!

I like to get a jump on my homemade ornaments for a couple of reasons.  The first is I am involved in an ornament exchange (this is an easy origami tree that I made for them last year!) that I have been participating in for over ten years!  We make a dozen or so of the same ornament, ship them to the organizer, then she ships them to us in time to open them on Thanksgiving!  It is so exciting to get that box!  Two, I am a part of an ornament exchange (last year I made this coastal ornament!) where we have a partner and we exchange homemade ornaments.  This will be my third year in this group!  Third, it gives me a long time to make them! 

Here are some DIY ornaments to start now!  Below is a list of ornaments that are going to be some of your favorites for this year!  I love to see what crafters can come up with each year!

DIY Christmas Tree Ornaments

Mini Felt Camper Hoop Ornament by i Heart Naptime

Salt Dough Ornaments by A Beautiful Mess

Wooden Snowflakes by the Painted Hinge

Christmas Lama by The Country Chic Cottage

Mini Wooden Sign Ornaments by The Turquoise Home

3D Paper Tree Ornaments by Lia Griffith

Farmhouse Ornaments by Hip2Save

Letter-board Christmas Ornaments by My Sisters’ Suitcase

Birdseed Ornaments by One Little Project

Wooden Tree Succulent Ornaments by Craftaholics Anonymous

Which is your favorite?  I love them all!  Maybe I will make one of each this year!  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My Christmas Crate

Christmas friends, have you heard of the subscription box called Christmas Crate? I absolutely adore them, and no one is paying me to say that! I discovered them about a year ago and signed up to receive a monthly box of Christmas goodies. It feels like Christmas each and every time I open one! Here were my goodies from last month. Chocolate peppermint cake, Christmas morning candle (the scent is incredible,) the planner I showed you last week, and my Santa watch!!

I reached out to the founder of My Christmas Crate, Kelli Girsch (Head Elf) to ask her a few questions for Christmas Tree Lane readers!

Christmas Tree Lane: I love My Christmas Crate. Tell me about that aha! moment you had for this idea!

Kelli: I grew up in a home that celebrated Christmas nearly year round. We had a "Christmas room" up all year (with a tree and lights) that felt JUST like Christmas even though it was scorching hot in thesummer months. I had been running retail businesses including online subscription businesses and
retail websites and thought... what if there are others who enjoy Christmas as much as I do? What IF
people really enjoy receiving, smelling and baking Christmas items and goods when they cannot be
purchased in store.... DO people miss Christmas like I do? And so we tested the market and to my
surprise, My Christmas Crate took off right out of the gate.

CTL: Where do you find your products?

Kelli: Our elves source products from around the globe year round. We try to accommodate a wide
variety of tastes and likes which is why it's wonderful to be able connect with holiday brands who
enjoy the same holiday vision as we do!

CTL: What are you looking for from a vendor?

Kelli: A vendor that can accommodate our need for larger quantities, has complimentary packaging,
fresh ingredients and sells holiday merchandise year round.

CTL: What are your Christmas must-haves or must-dos?

Kelli: Christmas cookies with the kiddos, Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Vacation (a must), hoppingin the car to look at Christmas lights, Making hot cocoa, Taking our "donation jar" that we collect spare change in all year just for the holiday season, vote on our favorite charity (last year it was the SPCA for shelter animals) and make our annual donation. My kids LOVE this tradition every year.

CTL: What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Kelli: Anything with TONS of frosting HA! Usually a classic sugar cookie with homemade frosting in Christmas shapes. We made ugly sweater Christmas cookies last year and it was a blast!

CTL: What's your favorite way to spend a weekend in Nov/Dec?

Kelli: Our family watching Christmas movies next to the fire with a Christmas tree gleaming in the room! Such a cozy feeling....

CTL: Can you give us a sneak peak at what we might be getting in the future?

Kelli: Welp, our elf lips are usually sealed pretty tight but we do release (one) sneak peek per month on our social media for our fans. Next month (August) we will be featuring "Christmas pillow wraps" that turn ANY ordinary pillow into gorgeous room d├ęcor! When we saw them, we knew our fans would love them!

Kelli, you are absolutely right, we will love those pillow wraps! Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to tell us a bit more about you and your business. Bringing such joy and happiness to others must be a fabulous feeling!

You can order your own My Christmas Crate here! Go and check out the website to learn more!  You can use code  XMAS5  to save $5 on your first crate! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Christmas in July! Christmas Planning

Hello, Christmas lovers!

Christmas Tree Lane goes into hibernation from January 1-July 25 each year, during which time we look for wonderful Christmas things to share with you from now until December 31.  We have a Facebook page, too, so be sure and check us out there and on Instagram as well!

It's at this time of the year when I put together my Christmas planner for the season.  I have looked all over the internet for planners that I would love to use and have come up with these for you.  They are all different, have different options and ways to purchase. Some are ebooks and some are hard covers. I chose a hard cover this year for me that fits right into my purse!

This first is an eplanner from the Etsy shop of Craftformers.  This is a personalized planner that is so cute! The inside is completely blank, you determine what lists, and items you want to have in it.  This planner is found here.

My second planner for you is this cutie from Kaylie Designs.  This is a printable that you make at home, providing your own paper and binder.  It's 13 pages of organization material that will help your Christmas planning tremendously!  Kaylie has generously offered CTL readers a 25% discount at her store using the code CHRISTMASTREELANE25 now through August 25! This is for her entire shop!

The third planner I chose because I loved the graphics! For something I am going to use over and over, I want it to be pretty!  This one is from Paper Me Paperie.

The fourth planner I adore is also just so stinking cute.  I love the graphics and there are great pages for organizing.  Woods Printables is the company.  This is an instant download as well.

The last planner I am sharing is a hardbound journal. It is from New Fallen Snow.  The pages are designed for you and offer enough space to write but not so much that you are overwhelmed by it.  It's large enough not to lose but small enough for your purse.  I'm in love with the graphics and the size.  Go and check it out, it is on sale!

Whichever you choose, get it soon and get your planning started. Make this Christmas one that will allow you to enjoy the holidays without incredible stress.  Happy Christmas in July!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Easy Christmas Craft with Free Printables

Easy Christmas Craft Ideas With Free Printables

During the holiday season, everything gets busy. With Christmas approaching, there are so many things over our heads. Decorating the house, picking up gifts, and preparing yummy food are all part of Christmas tradition, and it can also be pretty exhausting. That’s why it’s always good to have a trick or two up your sleeve.

Even if you are not an everyday crafter, using these free Christmas printables can make things much easier. They can be really useful for last minute gifts, or giving a final touch to your Christmas decoration. Here are some easy crafting ideas for this holiday season.

Create Joyful Ornaments

With Christmas just a few days away, you most likely already decorated your Christmas tree. But, there’s always a place for one more ornament, especially if it’s so easy to make. This craft can be a fun activity for both kids and adults. What will you need? A piece of cardboard, scissors, printed stickers, thread, and some glue. The process is simple - cut some cardboard shapes, print the stickers, and apply them to the cardboard using glue. You can also make this even easier by printing stickers on self-adhesive paper. After applying stickers on the cardboard, you can punch a hole, cut some ribbon, and hang those cute handmade ornaments on your Christmas tree.

Create Personalized Gifts

If you’ve run out of ideas and need a fast, yet creative solution for a present, wish jar might be just the right present. It’s budget-friendly and easy to make. What you’ll need? An old mason jar, cotton wool, little pieces of paper, Christmas labels and some creativity. The idea is simple. Use little pieces of paper to write down cute messages for your close ones. Wish them Merry Christmas, write down your favorite jokes or stories, congratulate them on their accomplishments - make it as personal as possible. Once you finish writing those messages, place some cotton wool in the jar, cover it with white or silver glitter, so it looks like snow and put pieces of paper in the jar. You can always add more sweetness to the present with some yummy candy. After you close the jar, print some stickers, and apply them to the jar.

Handmade Christmas Cards

What a better way to wish a happy holiday to your friends and family than making a customized Christmas card. You can personalize both the message, and the card itself. It’s time to let your creative juices flow. You can pick different shapes, materials, and colors. You can use buttons, ribbons, sprinkles, or whatever you can think of. Apply some Christmas stickers on the card and use it to write a personal note or your favorite quote. Christmas card is a simple present, yet it never goes out of fashion.

Download these joyful printables and give your Christmas preparation a final touch, and start enjoying the happiest holiday of them all!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 Days of Christmas: The Christmas Tree

It's the last day of the 12 days of Christmas! I have had such a fun time sharing all kinds of Christmas tips with you through these last 12 days.  Today you will be seeing all kinds of wonderful ideas on Christmas trees.  I am going to take a tiny deviation from the norm here and tell you about one of my favorite Christmas trees.

Welcome to the third annual 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop!

Stop by every day from December first through the twelfth for new ideas you can use to make your season brighter!

Meet Your Hosts

They have all been busy as Elves creating, decorating, cooking and crafting tons of new ideas for you to try this holiday season!
 Lauren~Wonderfully Made I Vanessa~DIY 180 I Kimberly~A Wonderful Thought I Kim~Everyday Parties I Erica~Erica Ever After

When I was in high school, my mom got so excited about painting ceramics. She painted dishes, and decorations and my personal favorite: a beautiful ceramic Christmas tree with colored lights. NO one in the family liked colored lights but me, and so I really came to love this little tree with its bright spots of color.

Several years ago, my mom said that when she got the tree from its box, she noticed that the base had broken.  We search for a base, but didn't have any luck finding one.

Two years ago, when my mom decided to sell our childhood home and move to an apartment, she asked me if I would like to take the ceramic tree home. Of course, I said YES and was so excited to put it up in my new home. 

Last summer, I noticed a woman at the local Farmer's Market who was selling updated versions of the ceramic tree.  I told her about mine and the broken base, and she had me send her the measurements and lo and behold, she had one!! So now my little tree lights up (with colored lights!) in my bedroom.

The moral to this story is: keep your eyes open, your mind open and your heart open and good things will come to you! 

Be sure to visit our fellow 12 Days of Christmas Bloggers below for even more creative ideas this holiday season!
12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop 2018.

Monday, December 11, 2017

12 Days of Christmas: Table Settings

I am so excited to share with you my Dining Table Christmas Table Scape with you this season.  If you have been keeping up with me, you know that this year we are spending Christmas in Cabo San Lucas. I have some big reservations about not being home for Christmas, but my family is super excited about this opportunity and I am going to love it, too!

Welcome to the third annual 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop!

Stop by every day from December first through the twelfth for new ideas you can use to make your season brighter!

Meet Your Hosts

They have all been busy as Elves creating, decorating, cooking and crafting tons of new ideas for you to try this holiday season!
 Lauren~Wonderfully Made I Vanessa~DIY 180 I Kimberly~A Wonderful Thought I Kim~Everyday Parties I Erica~Erica Ever After

So for this year, I am keeping with the theme, and I made our table scape all about Mexico!  The Margarita Santa is the feature on the table and I adore him.  He was made by the daughter of a friend of mine who lives in my neighborhood. When I saw him, I knew he'd make the perfect souvenir for the trip.  The seagull plates were purchased at Pier 1 last season.  Under the seagull plates are Pier 1's past season melamine plates. I bought one in every color, and I chose the plates that have the most beachy feel, but keeping Christmas in the forefront, too.  I hope you enjoy this tablescape, I had a blast putting it together!

What fun this will be to eat from this beachy space as we pack to head to Mexico!  The menu is delicious, too, come back on Thursday to check it out!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

12 Days of Christmas Day 10: The Holiday Porch

The front porch is always the most exciting part of the house to decorate. It is the part that tells me friends and neighbors that I appreciate them and that I am a positive participating adult in the world! I hope that my porch extends holiday greetings of the most happy kind to all who pass by!

Welcome to the third annual 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop!

Stop by every day from December first through the twelfth for new ideas you can use to make your season brighter!

Meet Your Hosts

They have all been busy as Elves creating, decorating, cooking and crafting tons of new ideas for you to try this holiday season!
 Lauren~Wonderfully Made I Vanessa~DIY 180 I Kimberly~A Wonderful Thought I Kim~Everyday Parties I Erica~Erica Ever After

I don't have a tutorial for you today, just a  walk around my porch and a little about my house.  My husband and I built our house in 2013 after downsizing and moving a city that had been our home for 20 years. It was a hard thing to do but I was ready for the change. 

The house is built in the Craftsman style, with a small wrap around porch. We are situated where we can see the lake from our porch and it is our favorite spot in the mornings. 

I did the greens myself this year!
This darling Santa has been in my family for 20 years.

We love this spot for morning coffee.

Our yellow door is a neighborhood icon.

Be sure to visit our fellow 12 Days of Christmas Bloggers below for even more creative ideas this holiday season!
12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop 2018.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

12 Days of Christmas Day 9: DIY Wreath

Christmas wreaths are so much a part of the Christmas season that I cannot imagine what it looked like before they were so popular.  My all time favorite wreath is the simple evergreen wreath with a beautiful bow. They are appropriate anywhere and everywhere. The look is timeless and elegant.

Welcome to the third annual 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop!

Stop by every day from December first through the twelfth for new ideas you can use to make your season brighter!

Meet Your Hosts

They have all been busy as Elves creating, decorating, cooking and crafting tons of new ideas for you to try this holiday season!
 Lauren~Wonderfully Made I Vanessa~DIY 180 I Kimberly~A Wonderful Thought I Kim~Everyday Parties I Erica~Erica Ever After

My favorite tutorial for making your own evergreen wreath is here. Nikki walks you through the steps and has great tips for making the wreath beautiful.  The wreath is inexpensive and the wire wreath investment can be reused year after year.  What I have been doing lately is purchasing a premade evergreen wreath at a low end tree shop and then replace the cheesy bow with a homemade one.  I never spend more than $20 for my real wreath and I love the classic and elegant look.

Pick out your ribbons and make your bow. I don't make a lot of loops.
Make the number of loops you want.
Make your center loop and secure with a florist wire.
Wire the bow onto the wreath.  
Add a wire to the back of the wreath to use for hanging.
Fluff the ribbon.

Be sure to visit our fellow 12 Days of Christmas Bloggers below for even more creative ideas this holiday season!
12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop 2018.